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Tag: privacy

Philadelphia Inquirer: FBI, Local Police Invade Citizens’ Privacy

cellphone-tower-photo2By Adam Bates
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Our cellular phones, the U.S. Supreme Court recently opined, contain “a digital record of nearly every aspect of [our] lives – from the mundane to the intimate.” Indeed, many of us use our cellphones to privately convey our love, our insecurities, our fears, our locations, and our most sensitive relationships.

Yet right now, across the United States, law enforcement agents have secret, unfettered access to all of it, and the government is trying to keep it that way.

It was recently revealed that the FBI has been colluding with the Oklahoma City Police Department to conceal the use of equipment capable of powerful, surreptitious, and constitutionally dubious cellphone surveillance. The device, known as a StingRay, operates by mimicking the signal of a cell tower. The StingRay puts out a boosted signal that muscles out the signals of legitimate cell towers and forces nearby phones to connect to the device.

Once your phone is connected, the operator of the device can triangulate your position, see the incoming and outgoing numbers, and by all indications intercept the actual content of your communications. Police often deploy StingRays without probable-cause warrants or, in some cases, court orders. Even when police seek warrants and orders, the federal government has coached them to mislead judges about precisely what they are being asked to authorize.

StingRay deployments have been confirmed in at least 24 states and the District of Columbia, and there is every reason to believe many of the remaining states possess them and simply haven’t been forced to disclose it. Different departments have different deployment policies, but cities such as Baltimore have admitted to deploying the devices in thousands of investigations.

To read more click here. 

Developer of Anonymous Tor Software Leaves Country to Avoid FBI

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One of Tor’s core software developers has left the United States because she doesn’t want to expose users to potential spying.

CNN reports that the FBI wants Isis Agora Lovecruft to testify in a criminal hacking investigation.

But fearing she’ll be coerced to undermine Tor, which allows Internet users to hide their locations, she left the U.S. for Germany.

“I was worried they’d ask me to do something that hurts innocent people — and prevent me from telling people it’s happening,” she said in an exclusive interview with CNNMoney.

The FBI declined to comment.

Government Technology: Stop Letting Cybercriminals Hide from FBI

hacker-istock-photoBy Editorial Board
Government Technology

Imagine that a criminal investigator has identified one or more computers that are part of ongoing criminal activity. Unfortunately, the people operating these computers are hiding them. The machines could be anywhere in the world, using anonymous email or tools like Tor to conceal their location.

The investigator also has a tool, a carefully engineered piece of software, which she calls a “Network Investigatory Technique,” or NIT, that will cause a targeted computer to reveal itself. Once she sends the software to the computer she’s investigating, it will reply with a message saying, “I am at this location.” The rest of the security world calls the NIT “malicious code” (“malcode” for short) and deploying it “hacking,” because the software exploits a vulnerability in the target’s computer, the same way a criminal would.

Federal court rules currently say she can use this tool only if she gets an electronic search warrant from a judge. But the computer could be anywhere: to which court should she go to get the warrant?

This is not a hypothetical problem. Online investigations face this problem all the time, when tracking down fraudsters or those issuing threats using anonymous emails, botmasters who have compromised thousands of computers around the planet or purveyors of drugs or child pornography. The current federal rules of criminal evidence (in particular a section known as Rule 41) require investigators to seek warrants from a magistrate judge in the federal court district where the target computer is located.

But if investigators don’t know where in the country, or indeed the world, the computer is, the existing rules effectively dictate that there is no judge who could approve a warrant to actually find out its specific location. In essence, the rule is, “The investigator can get a warrant to hack these computers to reveal their location only when she knows where they already are.” That rule might have made sense before the digital age, but in today’s digital world it forces an end to promising investigations.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

FBI’s Battle with Apple is Polarizing Public Opinion After Neither Side Budges

Apple logoBy Nelson Granados
Forbes

Alongside the battle in the courts over the demand by the FBI that Apple unlock the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, there is also a public relations battle. Public opinion is pretty split on the matter. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows 51% of those surveyed support unlocking the phone, while 38% are against it. Why is it such a polarizing topic?

It doesn’t help that Apple and the FBI are sticking to their respective arguments without acknowledging that the outcome can impact both privacy and the safety of the public. Apple has put forth a strong claim in favor of privacy, while the government claims it is just trying to do justice by unlocking the iPhone of a terrorist.

For this legal battle, in which the court of public opinion plays a role, these polarizing positions are to be expected. You may hear more polarizing statements on Monday as Apple announces its latest product updates, and as the evidentiary hearing on this case unfolds on Tuesday. For example, on Monday’s announcement of the 4-inch iPhone, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook stated: “We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and over our privacy.” Here’s hoping you won’t buy into these unilateral positions, for your own sake.

To read more click here. 

Economic Times: Apple Should Recognize Limits to Privacy in Age of Terrorism

Apple logoBy Editorial Board
Economic Times

Does individual privacy trump national security or vice versa is the question that lies at heart of the tussle between tech major Apple, and the US law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It puts the spotlight on the challenges of privacy in a digital era in a dangerous world. The FBI would like Apple to help break the encryption that protects the iPhone 5s used by Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

Apple has, in the decade since the iPhone became available, helped US law enforcement agencies gain access to locked phones. Apple argues that complying will require it to create a software code that will override the passcode protection that is controlled solely by the user of the phone, a privacy safeguard adopted to address the loss of public faith, and the loss of revenue, following Edward Snowden’s revelations of how the US National Security Agency used backdoors for spying.

Apple has drawn a line in the sand, protesting what it terms as a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of citizens. Privacy and security are now at odds. This dichotomy must be resolved given that technology has become pervasive, and will continue to permeate all facets of our lives. Technology is agnostic, and has been used with dangerous effect by terrorists. It is ironical that the same privacy safeguards available to law-abiding citizens become a protective shield for terrorists, preventing law enforcement agencies to mine information that could be crucial to ensuring the security of all citizens.

To read more click here. 

FBI Abandons Plans to Require ‘Backdoors’ on All Consumer Tecnhology

IPhone 6By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has backed off plans to require all consumer technology to have a so-called backdoor so that law enforcement can spy on suspects, the Business Insider reports. 

On Wednesday, FBI general counsel James Baker said the bureau has abandoned the “magical thinking” that consumer technology will be outfitted with backdoor access.

“It’s tempting to try to engage in magical thinking and hope that the amazing technology sector we have in the United States can come up with some solution,” Baker said. “Maybe that’s just a bridge too far. Maybe that is scientifically and mathematically not possible.”

The FBI persistence on the issue caused strained relationships with tech companies, like Apply, Google and Facebook, all of whom were worried about privacy rights and a backdoor for hackers.

FBI Investigates Security of Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Server

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Did Hillary Clinton put American security at risk by using a private email server to communicate when she was the secretary of state?

The FBI is investigating the security of the private email server, NBC News reports.

The bureau also also asked a Clinton attorney about the security of a thumb drive that held copies of the emails.

NBC reports that the investigation is into the procedures and email system, not Clinton.

The concern is that Clinton sent and received classified information on unsecured email.

Gawker Wins Lawsuit Against FBI for Records on Hulk Hogan’s Sex Tape

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The online news site Gawker won a lawsuit against the FBI to obtain evidence connected to an FBI investigation of Hulk Hogan’s sex tape.

The evidence has been important to Gawker since it was sued by Hogan for posting footage of a sex tape featuring the wrestler.

The FBI was investigating a Los Angeles attorney’s attempted sale of the Hogan video but has since closed the probe.

A federal judge in Florida said the bureau is required to turn over the records.

The FBI maintained the evidence was exempt from disclosure laws because it would invite the privacy rights of Hogan and his partner.